I paid to promote a Facebook post… and won’t do it again


By Greg Pak

UPDATE: Since midnight, a single post from Atrios has generated 24 times more click-throughs than the post I paid Facebook to promote. Lesson: Actual humans are much more powerful than Facebook.

I tried a grand experiment today by paying to promote a post on my Facebook page for the Greg Pak Shop New Year’s Sale. (15 percent off anything through Jan. 2 when you use the promotion code “2015” at checkout! Check it out!)

The result? As I noted on Twitter, after a few hours, the promoted Facebook post had 99 organic views and 2385 paid views. Sounds pretty good, right?

Alas, all those Facebook views only generated 10 referrals.

Meanwhile, I’d gotten 88 referrals from posting on Twitter about the sale.

I thought maybe my Facebook post was flawed, that somehow I hadn’t crafted it well enough to generate attention and interest. But literally no one who chimed into the conversation on Twitter reported having a positive Facebook ad experience. Here’s a sampling of the responses I got:

Here’s my theory for why Facebook ads seem to be so useless:

Facebook curates people’s feeds so a person who’s “liked” my Facebook page won’t necessarily see many of the posts I make. When I pay to promote a post, that person may end up seeing it. But since that person hasn’t seen my other posts, she doesn’t have much experience hearing my online voice and doesn’t necessarily feel connected or involved in what I have to say. So it’s easier for her to tune out the paid post. In short, the Facebook experience reduces social interaction, which of course is the lifeblood of a social network.

In contrast, people who follow me on Twitter see every post I make. For better or for worse, they get to know my voice over time. So when I post something very promotional, it’s within a context of other (hopefully) entertaining or otherwise interesting posts. It doesn’t feel like just another ad.

In short, I’m done with paying for Facebook ads. I’ll focus more on venues where my posts go directly to the folks who have followed me because they’re interested in what I do.

Added bonus: here’s a video the great Jim Zub sent me about the pitfalls of paying for Facebook “likes.”